Donegal is experiencing an increase in overseas visitors of about 8 per cent this year, in line with national figures released this week.
Central Statistics Office figures this week showed an 8.1 per cent hike in tourism in the last three months, compared to the same period last year, and the head of operations for Fáilte Ireland North West said that increase is also reflected in Donegal.
“There is a definite increase on the ground for overseas visitors,” said Martina Kerr Bromley of Fáilte Ireland North West. She said the most notable increases have come from the United States and Germany, followed by the UK and mainland European countries, particularly France.
Donegal drew more than 190,000 visitors last year, according to regional CSO figures. Ms. Bromley said they expect to see an overall 8 to 10 per cent increase on 2012 in the final regional numbers.
She said there was no doubt The Gathering has played a key role “in galvanising the Diaspora overseas to come home”, particularly from the United States, the UK and Germany. Donegal and Knock airports are doing particularly well, she said.
Labour Sen. Jimmy Harte said he has been speaking with hoteliers in the county, “and I know they’re quite happy -- not ecstatic, but happy -- with the demand for rooms.” He credited the rise on big festivals such as Earagail Arts, Bundoran’s Sea Sessions and the Rory Gallagher tribute festival, smaller events across Donegal, and marketing by hotels and tourism agencies.
“Donegal has everything to offer,” Sen. Harte said. “We just have to ‘do a Kerry’ on it to market it more to America.”
The senator said he also believed there was a knock-on effect to tourism of Donegal’s 2012 All-Ireland win and Jim McGuinness’ high profile. “It’s a tourism bonus,” he said